On March 17, voters in Illinois’ third district will vote on the Democratic candidate for a solidly blue chunk of the Chicago suburbs. Rep. Dan Lipinski, the incumbent, is facing a well-funded primary challenge.
Lipinski has undisputed Democratic credentials. His opponent is a politically untested former “businesswoman” whose prior work includes partnering with a convicted felon. In spite of all this, six presidential candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, have explicitly intervened to stop his re-election.
Lipinski is no conservative. He opposed President Trump’s attempts to remove insurance coverage from those with pre-existing conditions. He co-sponsored and voted for the DREAM Act. He is a long-time leader in the fight against climate change and has supported more and better public transportation in the Chicago region. He has co-sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 and helped lead the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
His record shows in the endorsements he’s drawn, from more than 30 unions and more than 50 female elected officials in his district who note his involvement in the fight for equal pay for women. In any other context, Lipinski would be enthusiastically embraced by all of his Democratic peers. But he’s not.
His opponent slanders Dan as a “Trump Democrat” with “hate in his heart.” It’s exactly the kind of misleading and provocative language we’ve come to expect from our president. So what gives?
Abortion extremism. Marie Newman, Lipinski’s leading primary opponent, is endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, an organization that supports taxpayer-funded abortion until birth. This same organization opposes the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which Lipinski and 77 percent of Americans support.
Newman has gladly accepted millions from abortion rights groups to run but has previously imposed a one-question limit on reporters trying to figure out exactly how far her position on abortion goes. Lipinski, meanwhile, is one of the few pro-life for all of life congressmen remaining. Despite a solid Democratic track record, he’s being punished by extremist groups who seek to bend the Democratic Party to their will.
The reality is that one in three Democratic voters identifies as pro-life. Lipinski is falling prey to a radical effort to shut out moderate pro-life voices. In the long run, these tactics will lead to electoral suicide for the party—especially Democrat-leaning districts such as Lipinski’s, where a majority of the population leans pro-life.
Our remaining pro-life members of the House are not only principled Americans who represent the diversity of opinion in the Democratic Party, they are critical to the coalition-building the Democratic Party needs to win back the White House and state legislatures. Presidential frontrunner Joe Biden needs to re-open the big tent and extend support to Democratic legislators whose beliefs on abortion look a lot more like those of the country they’re supposed to be representing. Only 15 percent of Americans believe abortion should be available to a woman at any point during her pregnancy.
Requiring “real Democrats” to endorse a policy supported by only 15 percent of the population is not only a disservice to the deeply held beliefs of millions of Americans, it’s a recipe for electoral disaster. Democrats say they care about immigrants, workers, and the environment. But that doesn’t mean much when they’re staking their electoral prospects on a wildly unpopular and anti-life policy.
All pro-life Americans, Republican or Democrat, need to rally around commonsense members of Congress who reject the extremism of the abortion industry. The pro-life movement is stronger when abortion is a bipartisan issue. And the Democratic Party would be too.